There is a reason why ball pythons, also called royal pythons, are favored globally among amateur and expert pet snake keepers. Ball pythons look great as they are available in many patterns and complexions, come in many morphs, and possess a relatively small, non-intimidating stature when fully grown.
Most importantly, the python pet snake often exhibits the best personality traits among captive reptiles.
What’s The Temperament of Ball Pythons?
Ball pythons are known to be submissive and strive to avoid potential confrontation by simply turning into a ball, where their name is derived from, useful for hiding their heads. Since ball pythons exhibit a submissive personality, they are often acknowledged as the “Labrador of snakes,” by experienced snake pet keepers.
Because of the easy, predictable disposition, handling and taking care of ball pythons are in general not problematic.
But, some captive ball pythons may display dispositions contrary to the norm. There is no proof to suggest that an individual ball python exhibit of a divergent temperament may be linked to an issue such as the morph’s pattern and gender.
Although captive-bred ball pythons are laid-back, still, they can be aggressive as they possess natural predatory instincts. The possible signs of an aggressive pet snake may include:
- Hissing with a closed or opened mouth
- Assuming the typical S posture
- Back rearing of the head
- Close monitoring of the adjacent movement and landscape
- Remaining in hiding for an unusual duration
There are two things to remember when dealing with a suddenly aggressive reptilian friend. First, the pets are not lethal as they lack fangs and have diminutive teeth. When a ball python nibbles you, what you will find more worrying is the shock felt rather than the hurt inflicted.
Lastly, if a ball python displays a sign of aggression, there is a good reason for that, a result of its instincts. Consequently, below are the common scenarios when ball pythons may be aggressive.
Sometimes, ball pythons may be aggressive when they are getting ready to feed. During this period, the snakes view any person or anything approaching them as a competitor for the same food. As a result, ball pythons exhibit their aggressiveness by lunging at their real or perceived threat.
If you have recently come into physical contact with meat or prey such as mice, rats, hamsters, and gerbils, ball pythons will display aggressiveness as they scent something that can be eaten on you.
Like males, female morphs of ball pythons are also usually not aggressive. But, still, female morphs of ball pythons can be aggressive, which is meant to safeguard their eggs from threats until they are hatched.
The resulting new skin of a snake is frail and susceptible to pain and soreness whenever it rubs against any object. That is why the snake may feel uncomfortable during this period. Thus, your pet limits its movement to a minimum and is easily irritated.
Ball pythons are sometimes affected by diseases and illnesses affecting their respiratory system, skin, and mouth. If your pet is unwell and unhealthy, it will have an unusual behavior by lashing out, particularly if it senses your intention to play with it.
Avoid handling your pet after eating as it is prone to regurgitation. In addition, the snake assumes aggressive behavior to defend itself from being subjected to that often stressful and dangerous process.
The enclosure of a pet must be set up and maintained to allow for conducive living. Elements that may cause your ball pythons to be uncomfortable and aggressive are improper temperature gradient, an unideal level of humidity, lack of hiding spots and climbable items, and inappropriate enclosure size.
Most types of ball pythons, when faced with the choice of either fight or flight, will happily choose the latter. Ball python types tend to avoid striking and hissing at a threat.
Like most other ball python species, the pied ball python is reasonably docile and receptive to handling. The young pied ball pythons are usually more lively and easily terrified, but with time, they will adopt the usual docile temperament due to regular sessions for socializing and handling.
As another common ball python choice among pet snake keepers, the pastel ball python boasts a calm demeanor and friendly temperament and tolerates handling. However, this species is prone to stress with regular handling and inappropriate husbandry, yielding aggressiveness.
Beginner and experienced pet keepers love the Pinstripe ball python owing to its largely relaxed temperament.
Providing effective solutions to the triggers of aggression above is one of the best ways to ensure your reptilian friend is always calm. You can also use a veterinarian’s service to establish your breed’s particular behaviours and solutions to the aggression.
Some of the solutions to cure the aggressive behavior of your pet snake may include:
This solution is vital in helping your snake understand what to or not consider as a prey/predator. Every day, the handling session should be twice, lasting from 10 to 15 minutes. When handling and socializing with the snake, please resist the urge to squeeze it, restrict its movement and carry it by its neck/tail. Also, do not handle or socialize with your pet before or after eating and during shedding.
If your snake tends to relate your hand with food or thinks when you open the enclosure, you want to feed it, here are solutions to ending that association.
- Interaction with the snake should be done frequently outside the feeding period.
- Use snake hooks or tongs to remove it and put it back from or in the enclosure.
- Always see to it that your hands and body do not possess the familiar smell of its diet.
Provide the snake with hiding spots, which often come in handy for assisting in the regulation of the temperature of the snake. Furthermore, the enclosure; should be free from irritants and have appropriate moisture, temperature, and regular replacement of substrate and water.
Avoid unnecessary interaction and socialization with your snake pet during shedding after five weeks or so. Provide the ball pythons with plenty of food and time to undergo and recover from shedding. The pet should be housed in a comfortable environment and not subjected to any handling or interaction that can trigger aggression.
As a snake pet owner, do not go near females that have just laid eggs, especially when they have not moved away from the location of the eggs. That is to avoid a potential attack since you are likely to be viewed as a threat.
If you need to place or remove something in or from the pet snake’s enclosure, remember to wear a safety glove.
Wash your hands properly
Before coming into contact with your reptilian friend, see to it that your hands are well washed and you, including your clothes, are free from the scent of something savory. In addition, you can buy and use gloves to avoid exposing the snakes to prey-scented hands and protect you against a bite.
In conclusion, most ball pythons can only be aggressive if provoked, have noticed a threat, and feel uncomfortable. The reaction is often a self-defence mechanism. If the display of aggressive behavior is unexpected that should be a cause for concern. The good news is that you can tame a confrontational ball python type by implementing the solutions provided above.